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Russell school named an Emerging School of Character
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TOPEKA — Character development is an integral part of the educational experience for students at Bickerdyke Elementary School in Russell USD 407. Bickerdyke was designated as an Emerging School of Character through the Kansas State Schools of Character Recognition Program. 

Staff and student voice are a key part of Bickerdyke Elementary School’s character education journey. The school has created a Student Leadership team, and school climate surveys take place in the fall and spring. Staff members can serve on the General Education Intervention team and/or the Building Leadership team. Staff members also meet bi-weekly in their Professional Leadership Communities, and grade-level teachers meet once per month to plan and collaborate.

Students and community members learn from each other during Lunch and Learn sessions. Students get to learn about a variety of careers, and these sessions allow students and adults from the community to make connections.

Recognition is given through the Kansas Schools of Character Recognition Program and sponsoring organizations -, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and the Smoky Hill Education Service Center. 

Bickerdyke was one of 36 schools and two school districts certified as 2023 National Schools and Districts of Character by in May. 

“We are pleased to announce and celebrate the schools and school districts that have earned this national recognition,” said Dr. Arthur Schwartz, president of “Each of these schools has put in place a comprehensive approach to help students understand, care about and consistently practice the character strengths that will help them flourish in schools, in relationships, in the workplace, and as citizens.”

The State Schools of Character award program recognizes schools and districts that have worked to enhance social, emotional and character development. certifies schools and districts at the state level that demonstrate a dedicated focus on character development, which has been shown to have a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate, according to was founded in 1993 and is a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Since its inception,’s Schools of Character program has impacted 3 million students, staff members, parents and other community members. 

Criteria for selection are based on’s 11 Principles of Character, which include providing students with opportunities for moral action, fostering shared leadership and engaging families and communities as partners in the character-building effort.